About the Games
241 athletes from 14 nations took part in the first modern Olympic games in Athens. The winners of 43 events of nine sports (athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming, tennis, weight lifting, and wrestling) were awarded medals.
Most medals won (from a total of 11 teams) by: 1. USA – 20 (11 gold, 7 silver, 2 bronze ), 2. Greece – 46 (10, 17, 19), 3. Germany – 13 (6, 5, 2).
The date choice of April 6 for the Opening ceremony in the Panathenaic Stadium was not accidental as on this day Easter was celebrated by as many as 3 different Christianity branches – Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. Moreover, this date is also the anniversary of Greece’s independence.
80 000 spectators observed the announcement of the opening of the Games by King George I of Greece. His son, Crown Prince Constantine, was the president of the organizing committee.
The first-place winners received not gold, but silver medals and an olive branch, while second-place winner were awarded a copper medal and a laurel branch. Third place winners did not receive a prize. Only later the IOC retroactively converted the medals of champions and vice champions to gold and silver, and awarded bronze medals to third placed athletes.
The Greek Spyridon Louis who won the marathon in the first international competition in Athens became the nation hero of Greece. German wrestler and gymnast Carl Schuhmann won as many as four events.
Women were not allowed to take part in the Athens Olympic Games.
1896 Summer Olympics website: